By Joel Austria
Before the Christmas break in December, our MBA cohort celebrated Christmas – with the theme ” the Filipino way” , the way we Filipinos do it back home, and so we Filipinos were the hosts.. The fun started a few hours before the event itself, as volunteers decorated the room, prepared the food, and set up the photo booth and sound system. One by one, people started showing up carrying their gifts and looking excited to start the program.
The party started with the traditional Filipino feast. We had some Filipino food favorites such as ‘adobo’ (pork & chicken stew) , ‘crispy pata’, (pork knuckles like the ones in Germany) ‘inihaw na liempo’ (grilled pork ), and ‘pancit palabok’ (noodles) . Iris, another Filipino MBA participant, also prepared and served ‘sago’t gulaman’, a cool and refreshing drink with tapioca and gelatin. For dessert, Claire made her special ‘maja blanca’ which is a coconut pudding with sweet corn bits.
After the feast, we asked the participants to form three separate teams to compete in Filipino parlor games. First up was the newspaper dance but with an added twist. Instead of just a pair trying to keep themselves within the confines of the newspaper, we asked the teams to send five representatives. It made the game more challenging and it was very interesting how our classmates strategized and executed their game plans. The next game was ‘hep hep hooray’, a game that required fast reflexes and concentration to not commit a mistake when asked to recite the next word in the sequence together with the corresponding hand gesture. The contestants in this game became very competitive and did a really good job of mastering the sequence and action. And so, to determine the winner, we introduced some changes by switching the hand gestures. Finally, we capped off the games with a relay. During the relay, we introduced the contestants to the ‘calamansi’, a fruit that Filipinos love to use as food seasoning. We also asked them to recite a simple Filipino tongue twister, ‘Pasko paksiw’. Just so you know, ‘Pasko’ is the Filipino word for Christmas.
Before ending the wonderful celebration, everyone gathered around the Christmas tree for the gift-giving and revealing of each one’s secret Santa. The activity highlighted for us that Christmas is really the season of giving and sharing. It was very interesting to see what the secret Santas bought for their recipients. The most entertaining part for me was when Li Qin received a number of joke-gifts from Pratik before finally getting the real thing. It was very funny to see Li Qin’s reactions and Pratik’s creativity. I was also touched when Catherine gave Emily (Student ExCo President) some home-baked goodies and a special drawing made by her daughter.
By the end of the activity, everyone looked happy and content with their gifts and people were getting ready to leave. But as a final touch to the whole program, Mr. Nick Soriano, our admissions director, arrived with a small washing machine to be raffled off. The winning name drawn was Sumin. But he decided that a woman should win the raffle, and so, after a few more attempts, Charu was lucky to take home the prize. Indeed, Chrsitmas spirit is in the air-gifts!
As the day ended, I was very happy that I got to spend Christmas with my new friends and share with them how Christmas can be more fun in the Philippines.